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How Clean Was Your Hotel Bedspread?

Gary Lee

TripAdvisor, the travel review site, has just come out with its 2006 list of the ten dirtiest hotels in the U.S. The list, based on travelers' reviews:

1. Tropicana Resort Hotel, Virginia Beach
2. Hotel Carter, New York City
3. Days Inn Downtown, Port, Miami, Fla.
4. Budget Inn, Knoxville, Tenn.
5. Red Carpet Inn, Fort Lauderdale
6. New York Inn, New York
7. Poindexter Ocean Front Resort, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
8. Days Inn, Lancaster, Pa.
9. Ramada Inn Miami Airport North, Miami
10. Sea Club Resort, Fort Lauderdale

Nobody should have to suffer a dirty place of lodging. But this list raises as many questions as it answers.

First, I wonder, how much we can trust the reviews that resulted in the list? For all its usefulness, TripAdvisor doesn't do much to vet the reviews that are posted. (Although one hotel owner in Scotland was nabbed a couple of months ago for writing glowing TripAdvisor write-ups about his own place.) Who's to say that the negative reviews were not written by competitors of these places, disgruntled employees or really picky travelers?

Further, can these really be the dirtiest places in the country? How likely is it that of all the lodging places from Maine to Hawaii that four of the 10 dirtiest are in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area? Maybe some of you folks have been to places that you think ought to be on that list?

Have any thoughts about the trend in travelers becoming instant critics? I'd be interested in hearing them. If you've stayed in any of the 10 places listed, your take would be appreciated. Or maybe you have nominations for the 2007 list.

By Gary Lee |  January 31, 2007; 3:18 PM ET  | Category:  Gary Lee , Hotels
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Anecdotal reviews are useful, but are normally based on one visit. More important are reviews based multiple visits, and in areas tourists do not normally see (e.g., loading gates, back areas of kitchens). One cup left behind in a room may result in a scatching review of a hotel, but what about the kitchen workers who do not wash, etc.?

Posted by: Steve | January 31, 2007 5:11 PM

Using TripAdvisor is tricky, but it can be useful. A single negative review doesn't tell you much. But lots and lots and lots of negative reviews, spread over a decently wide time period, is a pretty good indicator. I think it works about as well as feedback on eBay; there are outliers, but in aggregate, opinions tend to cluster accurately.

Posted by: eva | January 31, 2007 6:23 PM

The list is of doubtful validity, and you have given it great circulation. Many readers will look at the list and not read the disclaimers. I think you are being irresponsible or worse.

Posted by: Carole | January 31, 2007 6:35 PM

I have found Trip Advisor reviews extremely accurate, as a whole (for instance, the Radisson Old Town). They can use the publicity, because this is the only way poor hotels will do what it takes to come up to par.

Posted by: RL | January 31, 2007 7:26 PM

Lighten up Carole!
This is a news site.
Mr. Lee points out the dubious validity himself.
'Irresponsible or worse'? Nobody ever died from reporting on dirty sheets. Just dirty wars.

Posted by: Dan | January 31, 2007 7:28 PM

I use Tripadvisor as a guide to determine what hotel to stay at, restaurant to visit, etc. As eva said, one negative comment doesn't cause concern but consistently negative (or positive) comments allow me to make an informed decision.

Posted by: Tripadvisor Afficianado | February 1, 2007 10:42 AM

I stayed at the hotel carter last year when there was nothing else available at a cheap price, it was the only thing available. It wasn't so dirty I couldn't sleep there but it's really old and decrepit. They have lots of old overlapping carpets and carpet on the walls. I have a few pictures....

Posted by: julie | February 1, 2007 10:43 AM

As an employee at one of the above listed properties that have dealt with trip advisor I can for a fact tell you that many of the reviews are indeed false. Unfortunately, even when approaching trip advisor regarding the inaccurate postings, they refuse to remove them, and there are extremely stringent rules placed on the management from the hotels when they attempt to write a rebuttle. I have had numerous responses rejected because I attempted to dispute the facts.

Trip Advisor does not do anyone any good when it does not do a better job of verifying the information that they allow to be posted on their sight. For an example. Did you know that there are two Days Inn in Lancaster, PA? Did you know that the 2nd one is not mentioned anywhere on the Trip Advisor site? Yet every other hoel in Lancaster is.

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